6/26/14

Google Removing Author Photos -- Don't Panic Over Your Google Authorship! Mark Traphagen Explains Why.

Mark Traphagen has written an excellent post on Google Plus regarding the breaking news that Google will no longer be showing Author Photos in Google Search Results.  

Mark Traphagen Explains All About No More Google Author Photos

It's worth reading his entire post on G+ (hint, go do this, especially the Addendum) -- especially since he keeps updating it as he learns more -- but here's his take on things:
The End of Authorship? Hells No 
That's how I think the decision process went down at Google. I think they understood the value of the author photos, but at the end of the day, whatever that value was, it was not greater than the value they'd gain by uncluttering their search pages. Google Authorship continues. Qualifying authors will still get a byline on search results, so Google hasn't abandoned it. 
Besides, the bigger project here for Google I think is not author photos in search but the much ballyhooed but so far elusive "author rank," the ability to confidently determine who the content creators are in any given topic whom most people trust, and boost their content when appropriate. At SMX Advanced this month +Matt Cutts indicated that was still a priority, but was also still a long way off in being accomplished. 
This is a long haul project folks. Don't head for the lifeboats every time Google makes a change.

Google Authorship Isn't Going Away: You Still Get Your Byline

Google wants to provide its customers with the best content responsive to customer searches, and Google Authorship helps Google to accomplish this goal.  Traphagen explains its this in more detail, and includes supporting links for anyone really interested in learning more (or who is really panicking right now).

Those SEO hijinks, to find a magic wand to get content appearing above the fold on the first page of search results?  They're being successfully culled by Google.  Quality content is key; just keep providing it and don't worry about not having your smiling face next to the search result.

Still worried?  Go read more at Moz.com.


6/23/14

Evernote Is Fabulous Must-Have Software That Just Keeps Getting Better

Evernote is fabulous, and it seems that every week I find new things to love about this software program.  Granted, I've upgraded to the paid version (Premium) but there's still a wonderful amount of help that Evernote's basic, free version gives to anyone working with a keyboard.

This week, for example, I began right-clicking on the little green elephant head in my desktop toolbar and choosing "clip screenshot" and then flipping into Evernote to email that screenshot to clients.  Such a time saver - plus for many people, the visual (screenshot) seems to work better as an educational tool than a lengthy email message.  Go figure.

Love this new find.  It's a great, fast way to send them examples of how their stuff is appearing in Google Everything Search (top spots above the fold in multi-million search results); to send them breaking news stories for discussion in their blogs (lots happening in law these days, e.g., the ABA is okay with social media research on jury panels); and much more.

This is just one teensy example of all the cool tricks that Evernote contains, and how it is fun to discover them as you continue to delve into Evernote's depths.

You really should check Evernote out.  I think you may grow to love it, too.  

Here's a short, well-reviewed video by Anson Alexander that gives you a nice overview.


5/13/14

Removing EBooks from Amazon: It’s Not That Easy

Here’s something of interest to anyone that is self-publishing e-books out there.

Recently, one of my clients decided to take down an e-book we had worked on together a few years ago and published on Amazon.com. The e-book was specific to an area of the law that I won’t rabbit trail here; suffice to say that things had changed in federal law and what was being shared online was out of date.

My client is shown as the sole author. I worked with her on editing, fact-checking, cite checks, etc., along with getting a nice cover, moving the content from Word to the Kindle format, and getting the final e-book listed on Amazon.com.

She didn’t care about other sites; her goal was to share this stuff with non-lawyers who needed an overview and Amazon served that purpose. ("Hey, client, great question.  I've published a short e-book with that answer and a lot more that may be helpful to you.  Why not pick that up and read it -- it's faster for both of us and lots cheaper than my hourly rate?")

 This worked well for everyone for a long time. Then the law changed and the book, as written, wouldn’t be helping anyone any more.

Makes sense that she wanted to remove the e-book from Amazon and get it off the shelf, right?

Here’s where I enter the story. Seems that my savvy, smart, sophisticated attorney-client wasn’t finding a way to get the darn thing offline. Nope, it’s not that easy.

First off, you have to enter the author section of Amazon (authorcentral) to work on your stuff. Going to basic Amazon.com or looking at your official author page from your e-book's page won’t get you there.

So, you enter the special world of authorcentral and guess what? You still cannot simply take the book off the shelf.


Surprise, surprise. At least we were both surprised.

What happens next is that Amazon asks why you want to remove the book from the site. You must give Amazon a reason to remove the book from its sales catalog. And after you explain why, you get a message where Amazon replies that someone will get back to you on it.

Now, my client had an obvious reason, who could argue with not selling a law book that had old law in it?  Turnaround was short: the book was offline within 48 hours.

Thing is, what I’m wondering … what about if you have no good reason except you’ve changed your mind? You just don’t want to sell that e-book any longer because, well, you don’t feel like it? Or the cover is ugly? 

Or it’s a fiction piece and your cousin just now figured out that the blithering idiot in chapter three is based on him, and you’d rather not have the ebook available for reading during the family reunion next month?

Well, apparently, that’s not necessarily your call. It’s Amazon’s.


Now, I realize that Amazon is competing with other sites for e-book dollars and that Amazon may be worried that authors will be trading around e-books like baseball cards, trying to place their work in the spot where it may reap the biggest revenue return for them. (There’s even a suggestion in the Amazon response about not republishing on another site within 30 days.)  If this is all to avoid some kind of musical chairs marketing strategy, then I get it.

Still, I found it interesting that an author cannot take down their own work whenever they choose to do so.

And I wonder if there are scenarios where that turnaround might be harmful to someone, where they need to remove something immediately and are damaged by the delay.

Thought I’d share.

2/17/14

Google Webmaster Helps You With Writing Content: Watch YouTube Videos and More

For those writing blog posts and articles for web sites, Google's constant evolution as a search engine can be overwhelming - how can you get your content noticed by Google and therefore found and read by people (other than your mother and your friends)?

The answer to that question seems to change every day, but the key is providing the best writing you can create for your intended reader. And Google isn't aloof - there are lots of helps provided by Google online to help you reach your goals.

Google Webmaster Tools are available to you here. Perhaps an easier way to learn the basics is to watch a few Google instructional videos, like this one:


 

2/10/14

Hashtag Tip: Hashtagify.Me is Great Help in Choosing Great Hashtags (for Lawyers and Everyone Else)

hashtag, number sign, public domain image
Parents and children don’t always speak the same language, of course. Sheldon Cooper and Penny can get confused in their conversations, too. Not everyone communicates with the same vocabulary, which is fascinating and wonderful except when you’re considering hashtags in social media.

Hashtags have to be somewhat of a common denominator among lots of folk's vocabulary or they’re not doing much good.

Suffering Hashtag Frustration?


Which brings me to a conversation I had with a frustrated client a couple of weeks ago who is a lawyer dipping his toe into Twitter. Hashtags? If he had any hair left on his head, it would be gone now just over his frustration of finding hashtags to include with his tweets.

Hashtags are Important to Twitter and Google Plus and Facebook and More


One of the hurdles lawyers face with Twitter or Google+ (when they decide to delve into social media at all) is that lawyers think like lawyers. I remember being told by a UTLaw professor (Treece, Torts) that the theme of law school wasn’t to learn the law, it was to learn to think like a lawyer. To think differently when I left the building than when I first entered. Every lawyer out there has heard the same thing, countless times. “Thinking like a lawyer” - the reason for the Socratic Method, right? (Or at least one of them.)

It’s true, too. Lawyers do think differently, and this is great when considering all the potential ramifications of a contract being negotiated or when negotiating the settlement of a wrongful death case - but it’s sometimes problematic when attorneys are hunched over their keyboard, deciding what terms they should use to index their social media post or tweet.

Hashtags are tools you can use to index your tweet or post to help others find your content even if they aren’t following you, aren’t in your community, etc. Hashtags are helpful.

In indexing their social media with hashtags, lawyers may toss off a couple of words with an “#” in front and think “that’s that.” However, those hashtags may not be as advantageous to the attorney as other choices can be.

Lawyers tend to use words with which they are familiar, or which apply to their particular case or deal, rather than stopping to consider that these words may not be the best choice in drawing potential readers to their content (even sophisiticated ones).

Hashtags, after all, are just ways to index what you’ve written so others can find what you’ve shared. Consider these alternatives: Litigation vs. Lawsuit; Coverage vs. Insurance; Mortgage vs Loan; Housing vs. Property or RealEstate; Accident vs. Crash.

Lawyer or not, anyone using hashtags should be choosing words that they believe are familiar to their intended reader.  If you are writing for teenagers, then consider what words will work best as hashtags for them, not the words that work best for you and your peers.  You get the idea.

Try Hashtagify.me 


One option? Synonyms, sure. However, there’s a free service online that can help you find hashtags to use as well as discovering trending hashtags and more. It’s Hashtagify.me - try it and see if what your chosen hashtags provide as options when you input them into the Hashtagify.me word machine. (By the way, Hashtagify.me has the Highest Trust Rating at ScamAdviser).